From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Johnny Mullagh, Unaarrimin
Batting style Right-handed batsman (RHB)
Bowling style Right arm bowler
National side Australian
Johnny Mullagh (13 August 1841 – 14 August 1891), was part of the famous 1868 Aboriginal cricket tour of England. He was a skilful all-rounder, being a right arm bowler and right-handed batsman.
He was born in Australia in 1841 on Mullagh Station, a member of the Jardwadjali people, about 10 miles north of Harrow, Victoria, and learned to play cricket whilst working on the adjoining Pine Hills agricultural property. He was given the name “Black Johnny” to distinguish him from a “White Johnny”.
Also known by his traditional name Unaarrimin (he was given the name ‘Mullagh’ to identify him with his place of birth), he played 47 matches on the 1868 England tour, scoring 1698 runs at an average of around 20 on pitches that were often treacherous. . Spectators considered him the equal of any English batter. He also bowled 1877 overs, 831 of which were maidens, and took 245 wickets at 10 apiece. If this weren’t enough, he would occasionally don wicket-keeping gloves, achieving four stumpings.
Few contemporary cricketers better merited the title of all-rounder. His performances were impressive enough for him to join the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) as a professional, although he did not remain there for long.
Nineteenth century Australia witnessed severe discrimination against indigenous peoples. Many of those chosen to tour England were left to obscure futures and early deaths once the venture had concluded. One Player, King Cole, died on the trip and of those who returned, seven spent time on a reserve, two vanished and the fate of two others is not clear from the surviving records.
Unaarrimin was both an independent person and a passionate advocate of indigenous rights, refusing to dwell on state-controlled reserves. His political stance was revealed during a game at Apsley, when, as the players went to lunch, a white participant asked, “What about the nigger?” The captain replied, “Let him have his dinner in the kitchen; anything is good enough for the nigger.” Unaarrimin refused to eat in the kitchen, and sat outside the hotel in protest.
He never appeared in inter-colonial cricket although he did represent Victoria against a touring England side in 1879, top scoring with 36 in the second innings. He was then 38 years old, and instead of going in first-wicket-down as he did for his club, batted at nine and 10.
Maintaining his independence and dignity to the end, Unaarrimin spent his last days living in a rabbitter’s shack. He continued to play cricket until a few months before his death at Pine Hills Station in 1891, one day after his 50th birthday. The Hamilton Spectator described him in his obituary as “the [W.G.] Grace of aboriginal cricketers”.
A memorial was built to honour Unaarrimin and a local indigenous tournament created to vie for the Johnny Mullagh Memorial Trophy.
In more recent times, The Johnny Mullagh Cicket Centre has been established in Harrow. You might find more information at http://www.johnnymullaghcricketcentre.com.au/